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The Lowdown

Perhaps in part as an oppositional response to the laidback, mel-low, stoned-out, "Jerry was like a second father to me" ethos that pervades the redwood- and marijuana-scented campus of UC Santa Cruz, in the late '90s three students there named Josh Alper, Noel Harmonson, and Hugh Holden began making music that sounds like rock, jazz, raw electronics, and shortwave radio noise mashed up with a garden hoe and fed into a garbage disposal.

The Lowdown could be comprised of Jad Fair and members of Harry Pussy, only reverted to their kindergarten personas and recently beaten up by renegade second graders. These guys might not be crazy all the time, but they definitely know how to tap into their inner schizophrenics. How else to explain their muddy apocalyptic chaos of shredded guitars, clattering drums, Casios run amok, bronchial saxophones, broken tuner fuzz, and alarmingly bipolar vocals, all sewn up in dirty curtains of distortion and feedback and called songs? Or their disturbingly childish live performances, which occasionally see them perform in gorilla suits (and have gotten them mistaken for the entertainment at kiddies' birthday parties)?

With their No Wave mélange of improvisational noise this band doesn't so much abandon pop music as it does invert it. The Lowdown comments on pop by making music all about the incongruous elements, disharmonies, rough elements, ugliness, and dysfunctional humor that pop seeks to dispense with. The title of their debut album, Revolver II, is a Beatles reference, but it's reverential as much as it is ironic. The Lowdown is a laughing, dancing, dumpster-diving bastard child spawned by popular music history.